Woman Wins $5 Million from Doctors for Amputated Legs
A Georgia woman who had so much pain in her feet that she begged to be admitted to the hospital, but was turned away and misdiagnosed with a skin infection won a $5 million jury award against doctors who later had to amputate both of her legs below the knee.
On the morning of Thanksgiving in 2008, Ellen Wadsworth, a 61-year-old diabetic, went to the emergency room complaining of excruciating pain in both of her feet, which were also cold to the touch.
A doctor’s assistant told her she had a skin infection called cellulitis and refused to admit her to the hospital.
“She begged to be admitted,” says the family’s attorney, Virgil L. Adams. “Her son begged for her to be admitted,”
Instead, doctors sent her home and told her to ice one of her legs.
By midnight, she was not responding so her son rushed her back to the ER. Doctors then found blocked arteries in both her legs but it was too late to save them.
According to her lawsuit, a simple test could have prevented the tragedy.
“Because of not running a 30-minutes test that morning, she wound up having both legs amputated,” Adams says.
There was an even simpler 10-minute test that also could have discovered the blockage when Wadsworth first showed up at the ER, Adams argued to the jury at the trial.
Adams said his client never even saw the doctor.
“She only saw a physician’s assistant,” Adams says. “The doctor stuck his head in the door and said, ‘We don’t admit people for cellulitis.’”
But the doctor signed off on the assistant’s misdiagnosis, so the lawsuit blamed both the doctor and the assistant as well as the company that supplied ER doctors to the hospital.
The jury awarded $5 million against all three defendants.